We have been talking about block carving for ages, so we figured we would get something in the diary, and thus about 20 of us gathered at the local village hall for a day of carving. We set a Christmas theme with the idea being to make stamps suitable to be used for Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and gift tags.
There are two things to get your head around with block printing, first everything is a mirror image, which is not a major issue for most things, but words are not as forgiving. The other thing is that you remove the material you don't want to apply ink to, which usually means you have to remove a lot of background, leaving a raised pattern.
We chose Lime wood (Linden wood, bass wood) as its easy to carve. A few of us brought Christmas themed printouts and everyone got to work transferring the designs (via carbon paper) onto the wood, then began carving their designs.
In order to make the day more interesting we also bought a few lino carving kits, as this is very easy to carve, so a few people kicked off with that.
In the background we had a small spoon carving sub group, and Robin was making more carved people.
Quite quickly the more simple designs were inked up and test stamped with surprisingly good results, we experimented with adding ink with the roller, and with a sponge (the latter applied more ink, but allowed you to stamp multiple colours in one go)
As the day progressed the more intricate designs were being tested.
We learnt that the lime wood is great, but does have a habit of losing critical bits of grain just where you don't want to lose it, but because of the overall effect this is not a major problem. The lino is very easy to carve and retains detail pretty well, but being very flexible if more tricky to the use as a stamp. Multi coloured designs can be done with multiple passes where its not super critical where the two colours meet (you can set up a jig to ensure accuracy), a single pass is possible where the ink is applied with a sponge, but this is a lot slower. Once again sharp tools pay a massive dividend. Chip carving knives are really useful to get into small areas and for super accurate work.
Overall a fun (if not 100% bodgery) day and a great way to create packaging and cards which is eco friendly, unique and a little quirky.